Humpty-Dumpty, me that is, had a great fall. It happened on a wet Sunday evening when we arrived home after a visit to Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort in Ikogosi, Ekiti. Just as I was walking into the house on this wet Sunday evening, I slipped and fell in the mud and landed my whole weight on my butt rather loudly. Humpty Dumpty just had a great fall. I got up picked my pieces together and walked into the house without the aid of the king’s horsemen. A warm shower and some analgesic later, I forgot about the fall until Monday morning when I was riding to work. It became obvious to me that I needed to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Everyone I asked advised me to go to Ekiti State Teaching Hospital, Adebayo in Ado Ekiti. It only made sense to then go and try seeing an orthopaedic doctor at the teaching hospital. I tried to get a number of a doctor or any senior member of staff at the hospital so I could get a fast track service when I get there. However everyone I approached told me there was no need for that. The refrain I kept hearing is, once you get there you will be attended to regardless. After a long listless night I got up early in the morning determined to go see a doctor while preparing myself for the long horrendous queues and delays associated with government owned hospitals. Again, I reached out to a couple of other friends on my way to the hospital, in a last minute attempt to get a name or a number of a doctor or influential hospital staff but drew nothing.
On arrival at the hospital I went straight to the Accident and Emergency ward. What first struck me was the cleanliness; the whole place smelt and looked clean. I saw patients who were on admission and the doctors doing ward rounds. I approached one of the nurses on duty, explained to her my mission and asked to see a doctor. She directed me to one of the doctors in the Accident and Emergency ward who politely directed me to the outpatient department where he said I will be attended to. My natural impulse was to just leave the hospital and go to the court premises where I needed to attend to some issues but then the pain got the better of me. I found my way to the outpatient department. On the way there I met a young doctor who gave me directions and assured me the process was fast when I asked sceptically how long the process was going to take. I got a hospital card and a case note opened for me in about twenty minutes. It took four simple steps: get a bill, pay at the cash point, get your teller converted to a receipt and get your records taken at the medical health records desk.
I asked the young man at the records registry if it was advisable to wait or try and come back some other day. He again confidently told me that I will be attended to in a matter of minutes. I stood by the side patiently as I could not bear the pain of trying to sit while I mentally took note of the people who I met waiting and those who arrived after me. I was also trying to see if there were some patients getting fast track access to the three consulting rooms. Three nurses sat at the nursing station. Two were taking vital signs while the third nurse was in charge of sending in case notes to the consulting rooms. In about 15 minutes I was called to get my vital signs taken. I again asked the nursing sister if it was better to come back later in the day but she urged me to be patient, saying that once the doctors start seeing patients it would be my turn in no time. I finally sat back and continued to watch. The patient’s line to see the doctor soon started moving fast. It was soon my turn to see the doctor who examined me and answered all my questions while explaining to me why the effect of the trauma was worse when I sat or climbed the stairs and why he was prescribing the pills for me. I left his consulting room feeling better.
Next was the outpatient pharmacy department where I was I spent about half an hour, the longest time I spent at a service point. The fact that no money exchange happens between patients and members of staff is also commendable. The cash point is manned by representatives of the hospital’s bankers while a staff also recorded the transaction. At the time I began the process of registration and getting a case note, no doctor was on duty at the outpatient department even though patients were already waiting. By time the nurses had taken my vital signs some of the people I met were already getting impatient and loudly asked the nurses when the doctors would arrive. However, the time between getting my vitals taken and walking into the doctor’s consulting room was about 20 minutes. In all I spent a little over one hour at the hospital. This is not to say that the State Teaching Hospital in Ado Ekiti is perfect.
I write only about my experience at the outpatient department and not the entire hospital. There is always room for improvement even in a near perfect system. The process of getting a prescription filled was a bit cumbersome; you get your prescription billed, pay your bill in the next room, get the teller converted to a receipt and you then pick up your prescription from the first point where you got the bill. The medical health records department is a disaster waiting to happen. The whole unit is swarmed and overflowing with files and more files. The people working there must have a magic spell for getting out patients files from that maze. There is no privacy at the medical records unit. You stand across a counter while you are asked your age and that of your next of kin. The members of staff there seemed over worked even though there was clear cut division of labour.
Overall, the members of staff were all very businesslike and professional. I didn’t see any fast track patient or queue jumping by patients. Everyone sat patiently while we all waited to take our turn. There were enough chairs and benches for the patients. The television at the corner by the nurses’ station was tuned to Africa Magic Yoruba. Some of the patients were following the movies such that they didn’t hear their names called out when it was time to go in and see the doctor. No one asked me to grease their palm or wash their face before I was attended to. I was very impressed and happy. In all it was a good visit. I must commend the government and people of Ekiti. Healthcare service delivery is a key part of the eight-point agenda of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration. I saw the attention to ensuring this goal during my time at the state teaching hospital. Ekiti is working. The people are happy. Health is indeed wealth.
By Oludayo Olorunfemi
Olorunfemi, a Barrister at law, wrote from Ado-Ekiti
This article was first published in The Nation
Last modified: May 16, 2013